Tag Archive | agriculture

Rare French flowers from 1850s destroyed in Australian bio security bungle

daisies

Australian biosecurity officers have potentially caused a diplomatic nightmare, after they destroyed “irreplaceable” historic plant specimens, on loan from Paris’ National Museum of Natural History, following a bureaucratic bungle with the paperwork.

The French museum is understood to be “very unhappy” after losing its rare and valuable collection.

A box of daisies dating back to the 1850s had been sent to the Queensland Her barium for research in early January, but got stopped in Brisbane while going through quarantine.

Paperwork accompanying the flowers was only partially completed, the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources said.

While the department held onto the flowers “46 days longer than required” while clarification was being sought, the flowers were eventually incinerated – a move the department admits was “premature.”

Authorities are now reviewing the handling of the situation.

The original documents were said to be missing information about plant species and whether the flowers were preserved – and clarification was delayed when there was a mix-up with an email address.

For More Information: Tenplay

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US flights to cut flower transport cost by half

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The Kenya Flower Council (KFC) projects that the freight cost for flower exports to the US will halve with direct flights between the two countries.

Cargo flights are currently charging Sh400 ($4) per kilogram me of flowers shipped to America via Amsterdam or South Africa. KFC says the charges are high because of the transit stopover.

“It is going to be cheaper for us to export our flowers to the US once direct flights to America start, this will be a big boost to our growers who will see their earnings improve,” said chief executive officer Jane Ngigi.

The council is gathering market intelligence on the status of the American market, entry points and investment opportunities.

Volumes of flowers exports last year grew incrementally to 133,000 tonnes from 130,000 tonnes the previous year, according to data from the Horticulture Development Centre.

Ms Ngige said the US market would raise competition for Kenyan flowers globally as currently nearly all the produce from the country is sold in Europe.

“Exports to the US implies we will have diversified our markets and we will no longer have to rely on Europe as our major buyer; this will make our produce competitive because of an alternative market,” she said.

Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) was this year granted Category One status by American authorities, enabling direct flights from Nairobi expected to start in the next few months.

Dick Van Ramsdonk, president of HPP Exhibitions, said Kenyan flowers are gaining popularity in the US but remain costly to transport.

“Kenya’s flowers are a sensation in the US but until the categorization, it has been costly and lengthy to ship the country’s flowers to the world’s biggest market of our flower after the EU,” said Mr Raimondo.

He said with the flights, more American buyers will be coming to Nairobi next month during the sixth edition of the International Flower Trade Expo, noting that they have received a lot of confirmations and increasing inquiries from.

For More Information:- GERALD ANDAE

U.S. Department of Agriculture: Make school meals great again

On Monday, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced that school lunch regulations under the Obama administration would be less restricted.

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Perdue was joined by Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts at a Virginia elementary school‘s lunch for the announcement.

Sodium reduction and whole-grain requirements would be suspended. One percent fat flavored milk (chocolate milk, anyone?) would be allowed back into school cafeterias nationwide. These loosened restrictions are for federally funded school lunch programs.

Under current law, schools have to serve fresh fruits and vegetables, along with more whole grains.

“I wouldn’t be as big as I am today without chocolate milk,” Perdue said.

Critics of these changes say it sets back the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act from former First Lady Michelle Obama. She was widely known for her campaign against obesity.

Karina Knights, one of the few registered dieticians in the Sacramento area focused on children’s nutrition, said most health professionals supported Obama’s campaign, but acknowledges that schools and even parents had mixed reactions.

Perdue argues that the new administration is slowing down the process, but not going back on any health standards.

“This is not reducing the nutritional standards whatsoever,” Perdue said.

Instead, he said they’re meant to provide “regulatory flexibility” for the National School Lunch Program, a meal program that gives nutritionally balanced lunches to students for free or at a reduced cost.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, school food requirements cost school districts and states an additional $1.22 billion in 2015. Knight calls it an investment.

“At the end, it will cost less overall for the government,” said Knight. “[Because] they will spend less of any of the medical costs that come with obesity.”

These new rules are for the 2017-2018 school year.

The department is using the slogan ‘Make School Meals Great Again,” a play off President Trump‘s campaign slogan.

For More Information:- Frances Wang

Cut flowers (almost) for free

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Nothing brightens up a room or makes a more personal gift than a bunch of fresh flowers. They can be costly, though – I mean really costly, both financially and environmentally. Small arrangements can easily sell from £25 (and up) from a good quality florist. Sadly, the pesticides – often used in greater amounts than on edible crops – and transport miles involved in creating these displays can be considerable, too. Dictated by the demands of the global cut-flower industry, much of this material, despite being 3D-printer perfect in appearance is also boringly uniform. With stems so straight and petals so flawless, they are indistinguishable from plastic, and smell just about as fragrant.

But if you get your species choice right, cut flowers can be among the easiest of all crops to grow. Capable of coming back year after year from just a single purchase of seed, they are far cheaper, too, some arguably free. They will have a stronger scent and longer vase life to boot. It really is win-win all round. Even if you have the smallest plot, there are options to give you months of colour and fragrance. Here are a bunch I am sowing and planting right now…

Sweet peas will offer up months of floral harvests if you keep picking them regularly. Now is still a good time to sow them up north, but if you are in the south pots of seedlings can be picked up at very reasonable prices from garden centres everywhere.

If it’s nose appeal you are after, be sure to check for the word “scented” or “fragrant” on the packet, as not all varieties are scented. My favourite rose breeder, David Austin, has created an astonishing array of varieties far more delicate and olde-worlde looking than any “Dulux-coloured” types sold in supermarkets, all of which are selected for gorgeous scent.

Lavender is easy to propagate from seeds and cuttings and will produce dozens of fragrant flower heads per plant every summer.

In late summer, you can’t beat the blouse, bang-on-trend blooms of dahlias that will churn out a continuous flow of flowers right up to the first frosts. If you pot up a packet of tubers right now, the new growth can be used to make fast-growing cuttings, giving you loads of plants for free. A similar deal is the case with microcosmic that will form a growing clump if left to their own devices, providing more and more flowers each year. Both these blooms have an excellent vase life, lasting well over a week indoors.

For More Information:- James Wong

Congressman Abraham honors men for decades of agriculture work

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Congressman Ralph Abraham, M.D., R-Alto, honored two residents of Louisiana‘s 5th Congressional District for their recent induction into the Louisiana Agriculture Hall of Distinction with a speech on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives on Monday, March 20.

Dr. Abraham recognized Ray Young of Wisner and Charles “Buck” Understand of Alexandria for their decades of work contributing to the success of farming and forestry in Louisiana. Both were inducted into the hall of distinction earlier this month.

A transcript of Dr. Abraham’s comments can be found below:

“Mr. Speaker,

“I rise today to recognize two of my constituents, Ray Young of Wisner and Charles ‘Buck’ Understand of Alexandria, for their recent induction into the Louisiana Agriculture Hall of Distinction.
Since growing up on his family farm, Ray Young has dedicated his life and career to farming.

“After earning a degree in Agriculture from Louisiana Tech and a Masters in Entomology from LSU, Ray went on to pioneer the ‘Stale Seed Bed Conservation Tillage System,’ known today as no-till and used across the South to enhance crop production.

“In 1989, Ray presented to Congress an application to charter the Federal Land Bank of North Louisiana. He has served on the board of directors for the Federal Land Bank, as the Board Chairman of the Louisiana Land Bank, and as a leader of numerous state and federal agricultural organizations.

“Ray and his family still farm cotton, soybeans, sweet potatoes, Irish potatoes, corn, vegetables, cattle, hay, wheat and pine trees. He is a tremendous example of a Louisiana farmer making a life and a living off his land, and his insight is always valuable to me when I’m working on agriculture policy for our nation.

Buck Understand has spent 34 years presiding over the 4,000-plus members of the Louisiana Forestry Association, a past president of the Southern Forest Heritage Museum, and a past president of the National Council of Forestry Executives.

“During that time, Buck has helped pass the Forest Productivity Program to get part of the state’s severance taxes distributed to forest landowners as cost-share for replanting. It’s recognized as one of the top programs in the nation.

“He’s been instrumental in advancing forestry education at the Technical School and University levels so that we can have sustainable and productive working forests.

“Buck continues to serve the forestry industry today, and I look forward to working with him in my role on the Working Forest Caucus on behalf of foresters across our country.

“Mr. Speaker, Louisiana is one of the top agriculture states in the nation, and I am proud to serve on the Agriculture Committee here in Washington to represent our state’s farmers, foresters and ranchers.
But the real contributions to our state’s agricultural prowess can be traced back to folks like Ray Young and Buck Vandersteen, men who have spent their lives enhancing the industry that is so vital to Louisiana.

For more Information:- WASHINGTON D.C

Cut flowers should never be put near fresh fruit

A Cut Flower can simply be defined as any flower that is cut from the plant, thorns trimmed, and are ready to be used in a fresh flower arrangement. Cut Flowers are available at the florist or can be cut from the home garden

Caroline plouff

Most Cut Flowers are popular choices as gifts on Special Occasions, either as a single cut flower or as a bunch or a bouquet of cut flowers.

Rose is the most popular cut flower. Carnations, Gerber’s, Chrysanthemums also enjoy a huge demand in the cut flower market.Tulips, Gladioli, Lilies, Gastroenteritis, Sanitariums etc., are also popular with the flower lovers.
What makes a Good Cut Flower?

A Cut Flower should meet the following parameters-

    Appeal and beauty of the Cut Flower.
Sweet fragrance of the Cut Flower.
  Long stemmed Cut Flower.
Extended vase life of the Cut Flower.

The following features of a Cut Flower make their trade profitable for Cut Flower growers and traders.

More production per square foot of flower bed.
Extended production and a productive life as long as the marketing season last.
Ability to be marketed as Fresh Cut Flowers, while the surplus are sold as dried  florals.

    Resistance to disease and pests.
    Resistance to heat and droughts.
    Relatively easy to harvest and handle.

Cut Flower Care

Caring for Cut Flowers and keeping them fresh is indeed a science in itself. The first step towards making Cut Flowers last longer is to make sure that they are quickly placed in water to prevent them from wilting.

Cut stems should be placed in water immediately, as air rapidly moves into the water-conducting tissues and plugs the cells. This is why a Cut Flower that has been out of water for more than a few minutes should have a small portion of the lower stem cut off so that water moves up freely when the stem is returned to water. Cuts can be made under-water to assure the no air enters the stem. Further, care of your cut flowers is enhanced by following the tips given below-

Commercial floral preservatives increase the life of Cut Flowers and should always be used. A floral preservative is a complex mixture of sucrose (sugar), acidifies – an inhibitor of microorganisms, and a respiratory inhibitor.

  • To aid the floral preservative in slowing down the growth of microorganisms around the Cut Flowers, always clean the flower vase or container.
  • Remove all leaves on the stems of the Cut Flowers below the water surface as they soon deteriorate.
  • Place the cut flowers in a cool location for an hour or two. Cut Flowers placed in cool temperatures lose less water.
  • A process called hardening ensures maximum water uptake, where the freshly cut stem of the Cut Flower is placed in 110 degree Fahrenheit water (plus preservative).
  • Check the water level of the floral container or vase, where the Cut Flowers are placed, daily and add water plus preservatives when needed.
  • Let the cut flowers get a good amount of ventilation.
  • Keep Cut Flowers away from hot or cold air drafts and hot spots (radiators, direct heat, or television sets).
  • Never store fruit and Cut Flowers together. Apples produce ethylene gas, a hormone that causes senescence or aging in the Cut Flowers.

For More Information:- The Flower Expert

If your green thumb is getting itchy, tend to your houseplants

Caroline plouff

There is a note of desperation in the voices of my gardening friends right now along with wistful looks out the window as yet another snow flurry sweeps through. Spring is not going to come easily this year.

So we are going to have to look inside for our green fix for a while longer and play with the next best thing; our houseplants. As the daylight lengthens, this is the perfect time to spruce them up and get them ready for their yearly adventure on the patio or deck.

Start by checking the plants for water. Most of our houseplants go semi-dormant in the winter so they don’t need as much to keep them alive. With the return of longer days, they are starting to wake up and will need a good drink. Small plants can be set in the sink while larger ones can be put in the bathtub or shower and given a long slow drink to re saturate the soil. Once they have had their fill, let them drain the excess water away before returning them to a brightly lit place to finish drying off.

Resist your first impulse to water more and fertilize. Plants need much less food and water during the winter in order to remain healthy. Only feed your plants when there is active growth; this pretty much eliminates the need for fertilizer during the coldest and shortest days of winter. If fertilizer is necessary, it is best to only use about half as much as the directions call for. Once spring and summer arrive, go back to full strength. NEVER feed a plant that is very dry. If the plant is dry, water it well and then feed it a couple of days later. Plants that are stressed should not be fed and if there is ever a doubt, just skip the feeding. Plants will do much better for much longer without food than with too much food.

Sometimes we forget to water until it’s too late. If the soil has dried out completely and is shrinking and pulling away from the edge of the pot, it is unlikely to get properly dehydrated with regular watering methods. The best thing to do is fill the sink or a pail with tepid water and plunge the whole pot under water. It is really best if the water is over the surface of the soil. If it floats, hold the entire pot under the water surface or weigh it down so it remains submerged. Leave it submerged until it stops bubbling. Drain and if the plant is wilted, set it in a cool shady spot to recover. Remember that plants don’t need as much water in the winter as they do during the summer. Keep an eye on your plants and adjust their care accordingly.

Re potting can be done at any time, but the best time is just before growth begins, which is in spring for most houseplants. Here are four signs that a plant is ready for reporting: New leaves appear slowly and are very small compared to older leaves; soil dries out very quickly or water runs down the inside of the pot without soaking in; roots are growing out through the drainage holes or are appearing above the soil’s surface in the pots; or roots are so tightly coiled that when you pull the plant from the pot, you see all roots and no soil.

If you’ve stored dahlias and other tender bulbs in a cool spot for the winter, check on them now and then and remove any that are moldy or rotted. Also they may begin sprouting prematurely if they’ve been a bit warm, and then you’ll need to pot them up and grow them indoors (in as cool an area as possible, but not freezing) until spring. If you let the stems grow without being planted, the bulbs will soon die.

If you just need some color to brighten up winter days, consider a pot or two of forced bulbs (if you didn’t start your own), or some cut flowers. Buy cut flowers in bud, just opening, for longest life. Keep cut flowers protected on the way home from freezing, and put right in water containing a flower preservative (available at most florist shops and garden stores).

For More Information:- Pat Munts